Sony, Sony, Sony.
…and Disney, Disney, Disney.
There is a fair bit of disappointment, in both of these big companies, going around right now. I’m certainly feeling it.
Eventually, I paused and asked myself why. Disappointment is what happens when reality falls short of what we want or expect. So, what, exactly, am I wanting from Sony? And what am I wanting from Disney? Those are actually two very different questions, albeit with similar answers and a bit of overlap in one particular area.
Well, what I’m disappointed over is is fairly simple: I hate when corporate politics (or anything else) gets in the way of telling good, quality stories. Said stories are what I really want from both companies, so the difference is how I want each company to provide them.
We All Know What I Want From Sony
Yes, of course that’s what I want.
The last couple of weeks have been very rough for fans of Spider-Man, or at least the iteration we got of him in the MCU. He’s in, he’s out, he’s not-quite-out, wait is he back in and better than ever, no he’s out, all the way out now, oh crap.
It shouldn’t be too surprising, really, but it’s still sad.
Sony, it must be said, did great with their first two Spider-Man movies, and they definitely helped push superheroes into the spotlight properly, as real, developed people with riveting stories about humanity. This helped to pave the way for Marvel Studios’ current success under Kevin Feige.
But then they misstepped. Three times in a row.
Spider-Man 3 was terrible enough that the best part of it was when Peter was getting a beatdown from both Venom and the Sandman.
This was followed by Sony’s answer to the MCU: a cinematic universe based entirely around Spider-Man, including the Sinister Six. But both Amazing Spider-Man movies, whatever their virtues, still left something to be desired. Spider-Man, in Sony’s control, was fading terribly in terms of popularity.
And the fans… oh, the fans really, really, really wanted Spidey in the MCU.
There were whoops and hollers of celebration all over the internet, some including myself, when Sony agreed to share Spider-Man with Marvel, and just in time for him to be introduced in Captain America: Civil War, too! Ah, such great times we’ve had since, with two solo movies and a strong presence in three others. And we were so looking forward to everything that was to come, especially as Peter Parker was just barely set up for a huge role as a pseudo-successor to Iron Man himself! Not to mention how Far From Home ended, putting him firmly in the crosshairs of all his enemies and the public! Excitement abounded!
Then, this crap.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was successful. So was Venom. Though neither was nearly so successful as Marvel’s movies, they proved that Spidey was a hot item again, alongside the characters around him. It’s perfectly natural, then, for Sony to believe they can make money off him on their own, now.
Thus, when Disney came along, wanting a bigger share of the profits, things went south very quickly.
What I Want From Sony and Disney
A little team-work, please?
Now, I must admit that my initial reaction was entirely in Disney’s favor. Mostly, that was because they own Marvel Studios and it seemed, by all appearances, that Sony was being very greedy, wanting to keep all the money while putting less work into it. That may have been terribly short-sighted and small-minded of me.
I forgot, for a moment, a very simple lesson I once learned, years and years ago: there are two sides to every story.
While it is easy to blame Sony, one should not forget to hold Disney every bit as accountable as well.
Disney wanted more money. Of course they did. That’s their thing these days, isn’t it? More money. Shameless cash-grabs with sequels, reboots, remakes, mining the better memories of our younger days… that’s what they’ve been doing of late, for the last several years, and they aren’t slowing down at all.
So while Sony’s comment about Disney choosing not to have Feige be involved in Spider-Man’s future for now might seem like some pithy, petty spin at first glance, perhaps that’s exactly what happened. Perhaps Sony disagreed with reworking the deal over Spidey, so Disney cut ties, throwing their weight around, leaving Sony to hold the bag. Sony has certainly seemed interested in trying to come to some agreement, and they’re obviously scrambling to keep from getting capsized by rushing (relatively speaking) to make the next Spider-Man movie with Tom Holland in it.
As I consider this, I know what I want from Sony: I want them to come to some sort of agreement with Disney where they can share Spider-Man.
But I also want the same of Disney: I want them to come to an agreement with Sony, one that is mutually beneficial, to share Spider-Man.
Heck, I wouldn’t much mind, at all, if they managed to use Spidey to tether the MCU with Sony’s MU, make them adjacent to each other. But either way, the two companies need to work together on this one.
Which brings me to…
What I Really Want From Disney
In summary: a little less cash-grabbing, and a little more bang for our bucks. That latter part, especially.
I can point to all the live-action remakes as the laziest effort of all, doing little more than copying and pasting the story, without making any worthwhile alterations to it (let alone making new stories at all), just making the visuals appear more realistic (not necessarily “better”). I can point to cheesy sequels and reboots galore, though, in fairness, that’s a staple of Hollywood now (which, really, it shouldn’t be). I can point to how they’ve bought so many studios and are heavily driving them to produce more content, the kind of content they want, financing instead of creating. I can certainly point to the soured relationship with Sony, with Marvel caught in the crossfire. I could even argue that Disney, overall, seems to have entered a stage that is much like their animated movies were in before their personal renaissance.
I can point to all of it and say that Disney’s pursuit of our hard-earned money is leaving much to be desired.
But the one thing, above all, which leaves me nonplussed, and a bit conflicted, is their upcoming, much-vaunted streaming service: Disney+.
What is it which concerns me?
Basically: what they are offering.
Or, rather: what they are not offering.
Disney owns Pixar, LucasFilm, Fox, Marvel, and who knows what else. You look on the Disney+ website, and they certainly do not fail to sensationalize what’s available, including National Geographic. They have shows for kids and adults, they had an entire segment at D23 devoted to demonstrating how to use it, and they have deals for Hulu and ESPN in the works, too. They are offering a lot… or, rather, enough to momentarily turn one’s head.
I notice something about almost everything I’ve yet seen available o Disney+. Perhaps I am wrong, and I’m only seeing the surface level. But it seems to me…
They’re only offering the newest, and the most popular, items in their library.
Am I wrong?
I would not mind at all if I am!
While a great deal of entertainment is promised, with regular additions and a number of original series and movies, somehow it just seems all so… paltry, by comparison. Not nothing, but so much less than it could be, if they simply chose.
I did not realize this, but apparently Walt Disney left his hometown to go and found what would become Disney as we know it, in 1923. That’s almost a full hundred years ago. A hundred years. A full century of history to draw on, which has resulted in a truly vast library.
Even discounting all of their recent purchases, Disney, alone, on its own, with nothing else to it, has a massive archive of all sorts of works, many of which are absolutely beloved classics.
All the old cartoons with Mickey Mouse and his friends. The original Duck Tales, Chip’n’Dale, and even Tail Spin. Every cartoon they ever made. Everything they ever made for theaters or for any channel they owned. Countless movies, shorts, and television shows, both live and animated.
Zorro. Swamp Fox. Davy Crockett. Swiss Family Robinson. The Monkey’s Uncle. The Misadventures of Merlin Jones. The Absent-Minded Professor. Son of Flubber. Pollyanna. Escape to Witch Mountain. Return from Witch Mountain. In Search of the Castaways. The Gnomemobile. No Deposit, No Return.
On and on and on it goes.
Nearly a full century of history to draw on, not to mention anything Fox has in their library, and everything else they own.
And what do we get?
Enough to dazzle, for a moment, but, in relative terms… not really that much. It’s flashy and fun, but somehow a little disappointing once you start thinking about it, ya know?
What Do I Want?
Stories. Quality stories. Classics, and stories that can become classics, well-crafted, and well-told.
The companies that sell us these stories – not limited to Sony and Disney, though they are foremost on my mind at the moment – could do a whole lot better than they are.
To paraphrase Black Panther, “They can do better. They must do better.”